Here is one of my favorite sonnets with some of Shakespeare's most famous lines:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
- William Shakespeare
Sodom and Gomorrah
"This Charming Man. . ."
- The Smiths
"Certainly they form in every land an oriental colony, cultured, musical, malicious, which has charming qualities and intolerable defects."
- Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, p. 43
And at the Newberry Library I began a discussion class focused on Sodom and Gomorrah, the fourth volume of Proust's In Search of Lost Time. The opening pages of this volume strike both a balance and contrast between man and nature with regard to the experience of love and sex. We see the images of the insects, reminiscent of "the birds and the bees", who pollinate flowers and are immediately thrust into the world of M. de Charlus who is on the prowl for the tailor, Jupien. All this is spied by Marcel from his vantage point hidden behind the shutters of the window. Proust draws the reader in making us somehow complicit in the voyeurism of Marcel. It is but a preface for an extended discussion of the nature of homosexual love from the pen of Marcel Proust. We also have in this opening more resonance of time, of memory, and of the complicated lives laid bare by Proust.
In Search of Lost Time, Volume IV: Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust. Modern Library, New York. 1993 (1921).